Five things to know about the NHL playoffs
The Toronto Maple Leafs could use the same kind of explosive start tonight in Florida that the Edmonton Oilers had last night in Las Vegas as they buried the Golden Knights with four goals in the first 16 minutes.
The Leafs desperately need big games from their top guns to claw back into their second-round series with the Panthers, who are up 2-0 without playing a game at home.
Here are five things to know about the NHL playoffs:
OILERS STEAL MAGICIANS' SPOTLIGHT
If you ask about headliner magic shows in Las Vegas the names David Copperfield, Shin Lim and Penn and Teller are at or near the top of the list. You could add the Edmonton Oilers after last night's performance as they made the Vegas Golden Knights' discipline, power play and series lead all disappear in Sin City.
The Oilers pounced on the Golden Knights early and often to hammer the hosts 5-1 and even up their second-round playoff series at 1-1, with the next two games back in the Alberta capital.
The Oilers, who looked sloppy in a 6-4 series-opening loss on Wednesday, scored three power-play goals, one short-handed marker and got two-goal efforts from Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid last night.
They outshot the frustrated hosts 36-31 and won most of the battles along the boards and in the corners before the one-sided game turned into a parade to the penalty box.
After going 3-for-6 last night, the Oilers’ power play is now 14-for-25 in the post-season, ranking first among all playoff teams with a percentage of 56 per cent.
LEAFS NEED A 'CHALLENGE' GAME WIN
The Toronto Maple Leafs are quick to remind anyone who asks about their 0-2 deficit heading into tonight's Game 3 against the host Florida Panthers that it's a long series.
But losing the first two games at home to a team playing more like last year's Presidents' Trophy winner and less like the wild-card crew that clawed and scratched its way into this year's post-season should be cause for concern.
As the Leafs talk process, puck luck and one period at a time now, the Panthers — who have won five straight playoff games — are loose and feel that all the pressure is on the Leafs and whoever they start in goal.
Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe is careful not to label tonight's game a must win. Instead he calls it a big challenge. The players are talking about turning the page, overcoming adversity, the ton of confidence playing on the road and the fountain of optimism in their dressing room despite the loss of forward Matthew Knies due to a concussion.
It's W-time for the Leafs, or the word games for Game 4 will likely include sweep and next year.
DEVILS CHANGE FOR 'CANES VISIT
The New Jersey Devils, down 2-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes in their second-round series, will insert 19-year-old Luke Hughes on the blue line for Game 3 today, hoping a different look and added speed will make a big difference.
Devils centre' Jack Hughes believes his younger brother will provide quicker puck movement as the Devils look to get an early jump on the visiting 'Canes after two blowout losses in Carolina.
There is also a chance that Vitek Vanecek replaces Akira Schmid as the starter in net on Sunday. The Devils lost Game 1 5-1 and were thumped 6-1 in Game 2.
KRAKEN RESTED, READY FOR GAME 3
Jared McCann likely won't play when the Seattle Kraken entertain the Dallas Stars in Game 3 today, but the 40-goal man is getting closer to returning after practising in a non-contact jersey with his squad yesterday.
Sidelined by a late hit from Cale Makar of the Avalanche in Game 4 of the Seattle-Colorado series, McCann is making progress but coach Dave Hakstol said there's nothing imminent in terms of his return.
Hakstol, one of the finalists for coach of the year, admitted that fatigue caught up to his squad in Thursday's 4-2 loss in Dallas, but he was proud of his group for earning a split in Texas and gaining home ice advantage and feels the players will be rested and ready to roll tonight.
GALLANT JOINS EX-COACHES LIST
If you're keeping score at home, Gerard Gallant of the New York Rangers has become the fifth head coach dismissed since the regular season ended.
Gallant joins Darryl Sutter (Calgary), Dallas Eakins (Anaheim), Peter Laviolette (Washington) and Brad Larsen (Columbus) on the unemployment line.
Gallant figures one bad week — the losses to the Devils after opening the series with two wins in New Jersey — cost him his job, albeit some writers suggested calling his team lazy after a Game 4 loss and for suggesting his team's talent didn't like to forecheck in the Game 7 elimination game likely didn't help.
Gallant was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL last season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2023.
The Canadian Press